Items that seem unremarkable today might once have altered the course of history. For centuries, the nutmeg tree grew only in the Banda Islands, a small chain in the southwest Pacific. Locals harvested the aromatic nuts of the tree and sold them to traders. Eventually, a spice made from these nuts became a luxury item in the European market, via Venetian merchants. Seeking a monopoly over this valuable spice, the Dutch attacked the Banda Islands, subjugating the native people in a mostly successful attempt to control the trade.
However, one island in the Banda chain remained in the hands of the British and was the object of much conflict between the Netherlands and England. After many battles, the British offered to cede control of the island in exchange for New Amsterdam, a Dutch outpost on the east coast of North America. Inveterate traders, the Dutch were more interested in the spice trade than in the small outpost of New Amsterdam. In 1667, the Treaty of Breda gave the Dutch complete control of the Banda Islands, and thus of the nutmeg trade, and gave the British New Amsterdam, which they promptly renamed New York. Today, nutmeg trees can be found in many countries and no one company or country has a monopoly on the trade.
Atracing the history of a major city
Bdiscussing the role of commonplace items in world development
Coffering a specific example to support a general claim
Darguing for continued research into political history
Epresenting an innovative view of a commonplace item